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Apple and Quince Vinegar with Berries

After a few years (oh my oh my) of promising to share the recipe for home-made apple cider vinegar, i will finally try and write it down for you. I think one of the reasons I waited this long is the fact that I do it in a different way evert year, and to be honest, I don’t have a special recipe. I just let the apples ferment…

So, this won’t be a recipe in classical sense, but more of a descriptive, intuitive how-to.

There is one old proven way to make apple cider vinegar, the way one Croatian Grandma, one of my favourite grandmas, used to do it and it always resulted in amazing vinegar. Grandma had many apple trees in her garden, that gave plenty of fruits each year.

She would use up lots of them to make vinegar – she would just slice them very thin, fill huge glass jars almost to the top with sliced apples, covered them and let them sit for a few months. She would then strain the vinegar and that was it, that easy.

Grandma’s vinegar was great, but as a girl who likes to experiment a lot, I could not stick to that one simple recipe, even to try it once – instead I figured other interesting ways to make fermented apple goodness.

Every year it was something else, sometimes I was satisfied, sometimes not so much because the vinegar would turn out too mild, not sour enough.

Last year’s project was something cool and worth mentioning, my favourite so far: kefir-enhanced vinegar made out of home-grown apples, quinces and berries. It turned out really delicious (can you also agree that vinegar can be delicious??), almost perfect. I use it to season salads, but I also drink it occasionally, diluted with water (1:4 or so) to provide my body with some probiotics.

Instructions

I cannot really recall the exact amounts of everything to write a proper recipe, but here is more or less how it went: I filled a 5 liter glass jar half way with apples, then with quinces to 3/4 of the volume, and added 2 handfuls of frozen/defrosted mixed berries. Then I added 5 tablespoons of raw cane sugar, 1/2 cup of fully fermented water kefir, 5 tablespoons of last year’s wine vinegar (you can use any non-pasteurised naturally fermented vinegar, it will accelerate the fermentation process because it already has the fermenting bacteria in it) and filled the jar with water, just a bit over the level of the fruits.

I put a smaller jar to keep the fruits under water to prevent them form catching mould, covered the big jar with a lid and waited for nature to do its magic.

After 3 months (it can take more or less than that, depending on temperature, amount of sugar in fruits and other factors), the liquid in the jar had turned into really sour and perfectly tasty fruit vinegar.

There was a biofilm on top of vinegar and fruits mixture, which was formed by bacteria. You can use that film to accelerate fermentation in your next batch of vinegar. When I strained the vinegar, it was pretty translucent and lightly pink. And it really did taste amazing.

That’s it, the magic of homemade vinegar. I encourage you to try your own ways – once you understand the basics about fermentation, you can play and see what gives you the best results.
Have fun and enjoy the fermenting!

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